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HSE Issues Unauthorised Scaffolding Access Safety Alert

July 19th, 2018

Ahead of the UK’s impending school summer holidays, the Health & Safety Executive has issued a safety alert, advising those in control of construction work involving scaffolding and ladders, to ensure suitable and sufficient measures are in place to prevent members of the public, and especially children from climbing scaffolds and ladders.

scaffolding access safety alert

There is a long history of members of the public, and particularly children, being tempted to climb on to scaffolds in search of fun, but unauthorised access can have tragic consequences and often results in a fall from height. While members of the public have a responsibility to observe safety signs, warnings and barriers, children are often too young to understand or even read such warnings and therefore parental responsibility also has a part to play in protecting the young and vulnerable from the risks of using scaffolds and ladders as playgrounds.

The cooperation of both the scaffold requester (Principal Contractor) and the scaffolding supplier is imperative to ensure that the most appropriate methods of protection are specified and used.

The alert outlines a series of principles that those in control of equipment used for work at height, should adopt. Some of these principles are shown below. To see the entire alert, please follow this link.

Site Assessment

Consideration should be made as to the type, location and nature of construction work – this will assist in establishing what controls are required to prevent unauthorised access;

  • Site opening hours
  • Site occupation
  • Lighting
  • Site Access

Perimeter Fencing

  • Perimeter fencing should be provided where reasonably practicable and this should be continuous and fixed in place
  • The fence should be checked regularly to ensure it remains effective
  • Site planning should ensure that stored materials don’t provide an easy way of climbing over the fence

Local Fencing

In addition to fencing the entire base of a scaffold, additional local fencing may be required for areas of scaffolding that are vulnerable to unauthorized access, including adjacent to diagonal bracing, balcony areas and other areas higher up the scaffold that may not normally be considered.

Ladder Removal

Ladders should preferably be installed to service to single lifts, so they can be removed and safely stowed at the end of each shift.

Ladder Guards

Where ladder removal is not possible, access to the ladder should be prevented by a lockable mechanism and selection of a guard that is suitable for the ladders being used is very important.

Other Controls

In some circumstances, it may be necessary to consider the use of actively monitored CCTV or security personnel to ensure that the security measures implemented are not breached.

Further guidance on protecting the public from the dangers associated with construction work is available from:

HSE – HSG151 ‘Protecting the Public’

NASC – SG34:17 ‘Guidance on Protection of the Public’

NASC – TG20:13 ‘A Comprehensive Guide to Good Practice for Tube & Fitting Scaffolding’

Simian clients requiring assistance are free to contact their Account Manager for advice, on 0345 6022 418.


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